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Psalm XXXI. Verse XX.
Let the lying lips be put to silence, which
cruelly, disdainfully, and maliciously,
To neglect those floating imputations, and popular calumnies, which are in circulation against any system either moral, religious, or political, is rather magnanimous, than wise, and savours more of a generous contempt for danger, than of prudent precaution against it: Bold assertions, and specious invectives often repeated, begin at last to be credited ; we hear the calumny so often united to its object, that the mention of the one, almost mechanically introduces the notion of the other; and we are
betrayed into dangerous prejudices, rather by á principle of association, than by any decision of the judgment.
There is too, besides, a fashion in thinking as in every thing else, and the giddy part of mankind must ever appear in the newest philosophy, and the most admired system of ethics, or depravity, which the day has to exbibit. In an age of devotion, they lead in hypocrisy, regulate the punctilios of supplication, and adjust all the modes, and minutiæ of piety: In an age of philosophy, they are the first to disbelieve in the immortality of the soul,
discredit the evidence of their senses, and to doubt of, discredit, and deride
every thing else, which the rules of fashionable scepticism require.
If there be any truth in this, and if the world be led to such unreasonable conclusions from such unreasonable causes, it is important to remark the 'modes of thinking of the times, and to select for animadversion, those trite, but prevailing opinions which endanger the well-being of society?
1.}. It is a leading object with Sceptics, to bring into disrepute the character of Christianity, of its teachers, and adherents; and one mode by which they attempt it is, by attaching to all mention of these subjects, the ideas of intolerance, bigotry, and narrowness of mind ;-the opposite virtues they ascribe to their own sect, as candour, liberality, the spirit of discussion, and an exemption from every human prejudice; and such (as I have before remarked) are the effects of invective, and assertion frequently repeated, that those who have not formed to themselves precise notions of what these operative terms imply, and who have not learned the necessity of ascertaining their due application by a steady appeal to facts, are apt to admit both the justice of the imputations which this sect of philosophers make, and of the pretensions to which they aspire.
To the youthful, every thing which appears. open,
generous, is so agreeable, every thing which conveys the idea of narrowness, concealment, or deceit, is so obnoxious, that they literally become ashamed
of their religion, and feel abashed at their faith, before these men of liberal sentiment, and extended inquiry.
It is very easy to see the pernicious consequences to which this will lead; the horror which a young man of_talent feels, is the horror of being unknown, and unadmired; he cannot wait to think of distant consequences, the parade of disbelief is too tempting for him, and he becomes a deist; a : little time clapses, and from the same vanity of extending (or appearing to extend) investigation, he begins to call in question a superintending Providence, and a sense of right, and wrong; and descending through a long train of theories, and systems, from bad to worse, he subsides into a state of complete scepticism upon every question whatsoever. Is this a spectacle which it is possible for any human being to behold with indifference ? man standing on the threshold of life, and just going into all the business of the world, with a heart in which every principle of right, and wrong is thoroughly shaken, and impaired! If not destined for